Archive for March, 2013

Preparing for surfacing, by Sophie Nash, Project Officer

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Sophie Nash is Project Officer for the Westonbirt Project. She organises the logistics of the project, working with architects and project managers for various elements to deliver the works.

Drainage in place

Drainage for the new coach park and car park is now in place, including an oil interceptor for drainage within the water source protection zone. This will catch oil and silt from vehicles which drive and park in the finished coach and car parks.

Stone base layer

A stone base layer has been laid down on the coach park access road and parts of the main car park, ready for the next stage of surfacing.

Setting out markers

In the main car park itself, you may have spotted ‘T’ shaped markers pushed into the soil. These are setting out points for the roads, parking bays and other key features of the car park.

In this area, the surface is now further along in its preparation and levelled out – much closer to how the land will lie once the construction is complete.

Level surfaces in the new car park

The cold weather has been helping things along – saturated soil firms up in the icy weather, and although it makes for a rather chilly working environment, it is much easier going than puddles and mud.

You may also have noticed the new barrier that we’ve put in place, much nearer to the main road than the previous one. This is to let staff in before we open each morning, and metal estate fencing will be put in place after Easter to link to this and mirror that already in place on the opposite side of the entrance road.

For more details about the Westonbirt Project, visit www.westonbirtproject.co.uk

Final pieces put to lime sculpture, by Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

This March at Westonbirt Arboretum, renowned artist and sculptor Richard Harris has been creating a sculpture to celebrate one of Britain’s oldest trees – the arboretum’s 2000 Year Old Lime located here in Silk Wood.

After over two weeks of work, the final lime stems are now being positioned into place. The tallest stands at over 10 metres high, with around two hundred stems used to create the final piece.

Lime sculpture 

The last few days have seen artist Richard Harris and his small team of volunteers checking the wire fixings and adding depth to the walls of the sculpture with smaller stems of around five metres upwards in height.

Attaching the branches to the structure 

These extra stems have been carefully placed to add to the thickness of the sides of the sculpture, but with gaps left to let light through.

Close up of stems 

Once the sculpture is complete, the scaffolding will be removed, leaving the metal frame to support the mass of wood.

Once cut into smaller pieces, many of the remaining lime stems will be available to purchase through our monthly volunteer-led wood sale or at Treefest in August. The finer branches will be put through a mobile wood-chipper by the Westonbirt tree team and laid at the sculpture to add a final touch and alleviate compaction.

A new interpretation panel will also soon arrive at the site – help to further tell the story of this historic tree and how coppicing plays such a big role in its longevity.

Getting into the swing of things and happy coincidences… by Ben Oliver, Learning and Participation Manager

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

This March at Westonbirt Arboretum, renowned artist and sculptor Richard Harris will be creating a sculpture over 10 metres in height to celebrate one of Britain’s oldest trees – the arboretum’s 2000 Year Old Lime located here in Silk Wood.

Richard HarrisRichard Harris moves a stem into place

As with all new projects, it takes time ‘to get your eye in’; and this is certainly true for the 2000 Year Old Lime sculpture. The sheer amount and tangle of stems is daunting; it is hard to know which piece is going to work where.

Much of the first three days has been about trial and error; seeing which wire twisting techniques work (and look) best, sorting the cut poles into useful piles and working out how to work most effectively as a team.

The team work on securing the stemsFinding the best way to twist the wire

But Richard is optimistic about the steady progress; as he says ‘we are beginning to see the wood from the stems’.

The first poles have gone up… and some have come back down.Watching Richard’s careful and patient approach it is obvious that the work could be done more quickly; but that he is very keen not to rush.

Each piece is assessed to check it ‘fits’ into the vision of the sculpture he has in his mind. Once in position the wood is held in place temporarily and turned until he is happy that it works, before it is fixed in place with the wire.

Even then he is constantly considering whether it will need an added layer on top to create the effect he is after.

It’s not unusual to see him at the top of the scaffold one moment and then standing back on the ground the next – just to make sure. Like a giant vertical jigsaw he is gradually creating order from the chaos of cut timber lying around.

In fact, speaking with Richard it is clear he rather likes this concept of bringing order; as he sees it as a reflection of the order the stems once had when they were part of the living tree.

The sculpture taking shapeThe-sculpture-from-the-insi

It is not the only happy coincidence that has occurred.

During Richard and his team’s work they have calculated that by the time they have finished the sculpture will contain around 2,000 growth rings (based on the rough calculation that they will be using around 120-150 individual stems, each with between 10 and 20 growth rings).

Even the approximation of rings seems to fit – reflecting the ambiguity of the real tree’s actual age.

Coach park underway! by Sophie Nash, Project Officer

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Sophie Nash is Project Officer for the Westonbirt Project. She organises the logistics of the project, working with architects and project managers for various elements to deliver the works.

You may have seen work starting on the car park as you drive into the arboretum. But what you wouldn’t have been able to see, screened by an existing Cypress hedge, is the work on the brand new coach park, which is much further advanced.

A digger and a roller

The coach park is formed by using a digger and a roller (image above shows work taking place on 22 February). The digger scrapes the top soil away to reveal the limestone just below the surface – we were fortunate that this limestone was so close to the surface as on many construction sites stone is imported from quarries to create a foundation layer. The fact that the limestone at Westonbirt is so close to the surface meant that we were able to use a roller to compact it and create the hard initial layer.

The prepared limestone surface

The image above (4 March) shows the surface compacted, ready for drainage and surfacing. The drainage will protect the local water source by using an oil interceptor.

For more details about the Westonbirt Project, visit www.westonbirtproject.co.uk

Celebrating Westonbirt’s 2000 Year Old Lime: by Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager

Monday, March 4th, 2013

This March at Westonbirt Arboretum, renowned artist and sculptor Richard Harris will be creating a sculpture over 10 metres in height to celebrate one of Britain’s oldest trees – the arboretum’s 2000 Year Old Lime located here in Silk Wood.

Artist Richard Harris

Creation of the sculpture will involve the use of hundreds of huge stems cut recently as part of the traditional management process of the small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) called coppicing. Coppicing is the periodic cutting-back of tree stems to encourage healthy re-growth and longevity. It’s this management process which has allowed this particular tree to live this long.

The sculpture will remain at the site of the 2000 Year Old Lime in Silk Wood for the next 5 to 10 years whilst the lime stems re-grow.

Work on the sculpture’s supporting structure started in late February. Westonbirt’s Tree Team helped Richard Harris to secure the steel cylindrical supporting frame into place.

Installing the supporting frame

Richard is now working with a group of volunteers to secure the lime stems to the frame. The volunteer group are a mix of Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and local artists or those simply interested in helping out on the project.

Volunteers positioned on a platform about five metres off the ground are helping to winch the stems into position. The stems are then secured to the frame using wire. Things seem to be going to plan – working on about 10-20 stems per day, Richard Harris expects the sculpture to be finished by 15 March.

Over the next few days we will use the Westonbirt Tree Team’s ‘cherry picker’, or mobile elevated platform, to try and get some ariel shots of the sculpture. In the meantime, here are a few photos from the ground and a sketch of the planned sculpture to get an idea of how this work of art is taking shape.

Hundreds of cut stems to be used in the sculptureSecuring the stems onto the frameSecuring the stemsRichard Harris sketch of 2000 Year Old Lime sculpture

Useful links:
Find out more about the artist, Richard Harris
Find out more about the 2000 Year Old Lime